Pride and Joy – By Helen Hollister


Every new school year I have the talk with my teenage son. First, I tell him to make good choices and be particular about the friends he makes. Then  most importantly, I encourage him to  do his best . I have learned over the years that the best encouragement is his own personal achievement.

As parents,  we want our children to strive, be at the top of the class, and we shine with great pride. We can boast about our child’s achievements and our own standards of learning instilled in them. But are they making the grades for themselves or for us? Maybe they are just passing the class or just going with the flow of school. We can push and pull in every direction to set them on the right track, but push and pull how much? I can’t go to class with my son, take his notes, study for his tests, and take the test too.  I would be labeled a helicopter parent and he a mamma’s boy.

Many of us tell our children “I will give you 20 dollars for every A “ or “ If you get above 95%, I will get you a new cell phone.” Encouragement or bribery ? Now on the negative side, if our children are not doing what is expected of them, what do we do? A punishment is given for that not so great report. Grounded for a month. That new cell phone he or she got last report is taken away. So, did they learn what is important for them?

After years of trial and error with my older children, I have come to realize the best way to encourage my son is not by pushing or pulling or even bribery. I found what works best is teaching him all his hard work is only for him. That that brilliant report card is his own personal achievement and a gateway to his future. That everything he learns is for his own knowledge and growth. And in the end of it all he can look back and be proud of himself.  I will be beaming with pride and joy.

Teaching our children to work hard and instill good habits is one thing. But being an influence in choosing a career path is another. When I ask my son what would he like to do he says he wants to be a soccer player. He aspires to be Ronaldo and play for a prestigious European team. Now this is when a sublime suggesting comes into play. Chemistry is so cool and amazing. I bet you will love it. You could study medicine become a doctor and help people.” Thanks mom , but I will entertain people with my cool soccer skills,” Sam replied.

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